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4.  TITLE  rand  Submit) 



Technical  Report,  1975, 


7.  AuTHORfaJ 

Robert  J.  House  and 
Terence  R.  Mitchell 


N00014-67-A* 01 03-0032 
NR  170-761 


Organizational  Research  (NI-25) 
Univ.  of  Wash.,  Seattle,  WA  98195 




April  1975 


<4  MONITORING  AGENCY  NAME  A AOORESSf/1  dllloront  Irony  Controlling  Ollleo) 

IS.  SECURITY  CLASS,  ref  Mo  roport) 



■ 6 DISTRIBUTION  STATEMENT  (ol  thlo  Roport) 

17.  DISTRIBUTION  STATEMENT  (ot  the  abotroci  entered  la  Block  20,  It  dlltoront  tram  Report)  \ 

is.  supplementary  notes 

IS  KEY  WORDS  (Continue  on  rmvoree  oldo  It  neceeeary  tdontlfy  by  block  numbor) 

Path-Goal  Theory  -Contingency  Factors  - Leadership  Style 

20.  ABSTRACT  ( Continue  on  rover ee  oldo  It  neceeeary  and  Identity  by  block  number) 

The  paper  reviews  the  path-goal  theory  of  leadership.  This  theory  states 
that  a leader's  behavior  Is  important  for  good  performance  as  a function  of 
Its  Impact  on  subordinates'  perceptions  of  paths  to  goals  and  the  attractive- 
ness of  the  goals.  When  leader  behavior  clarifies  these  goals  or  makes  them 
more  attractive  we  would  expect  the  satisfaction,  performance  and  leader 
acceptance  to  Increase.  The  specific  relationship  between  leader  behavior 

(cont'd  next  page) 


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and  these  criteria  (satisfaction,  performance  and  acceptance)  will  depend  upon 
the  personality  of  the  subordinate  and  the  existing  task  environment. 

The  paper  discusses  these  complex  relationships  in  some  detail,  v A theor- 
etical framework  encompassing  four  types  of  leader  behavior,  the  personality 
and  environmental  moderators  and  the  three  criteria  Is  presented.  The  em- 
pirical support  for  the  propositions  Is  also  reviewed.  In  general  It  appears 
as  If  the  path-goal  approach  will  be  useful  for  both  our  understanding  and 
prediction  of  effective  leader  behavior. 

SKCURITV  CLAUDICATION  OF  this  FAOtfWiwi  Bat*  Inlarao 


Robert  J.  House  and  Terence  R.  Mitchell 

University  of  Washington 
Seattle,  Washington 

Technical  Report  75-67 

April  1975 

Contract  NR  170-761,  N00014-67-A-01 03-0032 

Organizational  Effectiveness  Research  Programs 
Office  of  Naval  Research 



Pfe^BUTid^  Vv.\ ■„ ; : ■ _ 

Approved  for  pub'-sr  re  lea*#; 

DiaUibulion  Ur'ir.titad 


Robert  J.  House 
University  of  Toronto 

Terence  R.  Mitchell 
University  of  Washington 

An  Integrated  body  of  conjecture  by  students  of  leadership,  referred  to  as 
the  "Path-Goal  Theory  of  Leadership,"  Is  currently  emerging.  According  to  this 
theory,  leaders  are  effective  because  of  thler  Impact  on  subordinates'  motivation, 
ability  to  perform  effectively  and  satisfactions.  The  theory  Is  called  Path-Goal 
because  Its  major  concern  Is  how  the  leader  Influences  the  subordinates'  percep- 
tions of  their  work  goals,  personal  goals  and  paths  to  goal  attainment.  The  the- 
ory suggests  that  a leader's  behavior  Is  motivating  or  satisfying  to  the  degree 
that  the  behavior  Increases  subordinate  goal  attainment  and  clarifies  the  paths  to 
these  goals. 

Historical  Foundations 

The  path-goal  approach  has  its  roots  In  a more  general  motivational  theory 

called  expectancy  theory.1  Briefly.,  expectancy  theory  states  that  an  Individual's 

attitudes  (e.g.,  satisfaction  with  supervision  or  job  satisfaction)  or  behavior 

(e.g.,  leader  behavior  or  job  effort)  can  be  predicted  from:  (1)  the  degree  to 

which  the  job,  or  behavior,  is  seen  as  leading  to  various  outcomes  (expectancy) 

and  (2)  the  evaluation  of  these  outcomes  (valences).  Thus,  people  are  satisfied 

with  their  job  If  they  think  It  leads  to  things  that  are  highly  valued,  and  they 

work  hard  if  they  believe  that  effort  leads  to  things  that  are  highly  valued. 

This  type  of  theoretical  rationale  can  be  used  to  predict  a variety  of  phenomena 

related  to  leadership,  such  as  why  leaders  behave  the  way  they  do,  or  how  leader 


behavior  influences  subordinate  motivation. 

This  latter  approach  is  the  primary  concern  of  this  article.  The  implication 
for  leadership  Is  that  subordinates  are  motivated  by  leader  behavior  to  the  extent 

2 House 

that  this  behavior  Influences  expectancies,  e.g.,  goal  paths  and  valences,  e.g 

goal  attractiveness. 

Several  writers  have  advanced  specific  hypotheses  concerning  how  the  leader 
affects  the  paths  and  the  goals  of  subordinates.  These  writers  focused  on  two 
Issues:  (1)  how  the  leader  affects  subordinates'  expectations  that  effort  will 

lead  to  effective  performance  and  valued  rewards,  and  (2)  how  this  expectation 
affects  motivation  to  work  hard  and  perform  well. 

While  the  state  of  theorizing  about  leadership  In  terms  of  subordinates' 
paths  and  goals  Is  In  Its  Infancy,  we  believe  It  Is  promising  for  two  reasons. 
First,  It  suggests  effects  of  leader  behavior  that  have  not  yet  been  investigated 
but  which  appear  to  be  fruitful  areas  of  Inquiry.  And,  second.  It  suggests  with 
some  precision  the  situational  factors  on  which  the  effects  of  leader  behavior 
are  contingent. 

The  Initial  theoretical  work  by  Evans  asserts  that  leaders  will  be  effective 
by  making  rewards  available  to  subordinates  and  by  making  these  rewards  contingent 


on  the  subordinate's  accomplishment  of  specific  goals.  Evans  argued  that  one  of 
the  strategic  functions  of  the  leader  Is  to  clarify  for  subordinates  the  kind  of 
behavior  that  leads  to  goal  accomplishment  and  valued  rewards.  This  function 
might  be  referred  to  as  path  clarification.  Evans  also  argued  that  the  leader 
Increases  the  rewards  by  being  concerned  about  their  status,  welfare  and  comfort. 
Leader  supportiveness  Is  In  itself  a reward  that  the  leader  has  at  his  or  her  dis- 
posal, and  the  judicious  use  of  this  reward  increases  the  motivation  of  subor- 

Evans  also  studied  the  relationship  between  the  behavior  of  leaders  and  the 
subordinates'  expectations  that  effort  leads  to  rewards  and  also  studied  the  re- 
sulting Impact  on  ratings  of  the  subordinates'  performance.  He  found  that  when 
subordinates  viewed  leaders  as  being  supportive  (considerate  of  their  needs)  and 
when  these  superiors  provided  directions  and  guidance  to  the  subordinates,  there 



was  a positive  relationship  between  leader  behavior  and  subordinates'  performance 

However,  leader  behavior  was  only  related  to  subordinates'  performance  wh*r. 
the  leader's  behavior  also  was  related  to  the  subordinates'  expectations  that  their 
effort  would  result  In  desired  rewards.  Thus,  Evans'  findings  suggest  that  the 
major  Impact  of  a leader  on  the  performance  of  subordinates  Is  clarifying  the  path 
to  desired  rewards  and  making  such  rewards  contingent  on  effective  performance. 

Stimulated  by  this  line  of  reasoning.  House,  and  House  and  Dessler  advanced 
a more  complex  theory  of  the  effects  of  leader  behavior  on  the  motivation  of  sub- 
ordinates.  The  theory  Intends  to  explain  the  effects  of  four  specific  kinds  of 
leader  behavior  on  the  following  three  subordinate  attitudes  or  expectations:  (1) 
the  satisfaction  of  subordinates,  (2)  the  subordinates'  acceptance  of  the  leader 
and  (3)  the  expectations  of  subordinates  that  effort  will  result  In  effective  per- 
formance and  that  effective  performance  Is  the  path  to  rewards.  The  four  kinds 
of  leader  behavior  Included  In  the  theory  are:  (1)  directive  leadership,  (2)  sup- 

portive leadership,  (3)  participative  leadership  and  (4)  achievement-oriented 
leadership.  Directive  leadership  Is  characterized  by  a leader  who  lets  subordin- 
ates know  what  is  expected  of  them,  gives  specific  guidance  as  to  what  should  be 
done  and  how  It  should  be  done,  makes  his  or  her  part  In  the  group  understood, 
schedules  work  to  be  done,  maintains  definite  standards  of  performance  and  asks 
that  group  members  follow  standard  rules  and  regulations.  Supportive  leadership 
is  characterized  by  a friendly  and  approachable  leader  who  shows  concern  for  the 
status,  well-being  and  needs  of  subordinates.  Sush  a leader  does  little  things 
to  make  the  work  more  pleasant,  treats  members  as  equals  and  Is  friendly  and 
approachable.  Participative  leadership  Is  characterized  by  a leader  who  consults 
with  subordinates,  solicits  their  suggestions  and  takes  these  suggestions  serious- 
ly Into  consideration  before  making  a decision.  An  achievement -oriented  leader 
sets  challenging  goals,  expects  subordinates  to  perform  at  their  highest  level, 



continuously  seeks  Improvement  In  performance  and  shows  a high  degree  of  confidence 
that  the  subordinates  will  assume  responsibility,  put  forth  effort  and  accomplish 
challenging  goals.  This  kind  of  leader  constantly  emphasizes  excellence  In  per- 
formance and  simultaneously  displays  confidence  that  subordinates  will  meet  high 
standards  of  excellence. 

A number  of  studies  suggest  that  these  different  leadership  styles  can  be 
shown  by  the  same  leader  In  various  situations.®  For  example,  a leader  may  show 
directiveness  toward  subordinates  In  some  Instances  and  be  participative  or  sup- 
portive In  other  Instances. ^ Thus,  the  traditional  method  of  characterizing  a 
leader  as  either  highly  participative  and  supportive  or  highly  directive  Is  In- 
valid; rather.  It  can  be  concluded  that  leaders  vary  In  the  particular  fashion 
employed  for  supervising  their  subordinates.  Also,  the  theory.  In  Its  present 
stage.  Is  a tentative  explanation  of  the  effects  of  leader  behavior— It  is  in- 
complete because  It  does  not  explain  other  kinds  of  leader  behavior  and  does  not 
explain  the  effects  of  the  leader  on. factors  other  than  subordinate  acceptance, 
satisfaction  and  expectations.  However,  the  theory  Is  stated  so  that  additional 
variables  may  be  Included  In  It  as  new  knowledge  Is  made  available. 

General  Propositions 

The  first  proposition  of  path-goal  theory  Is  that  leader  behavior  is  accep- 
table and  satisfying  to  subordinates  to  the  extent  that  the  subordinates  see  such 
behavior  as  either  an  Immediate  source  of  satisfaction  or  as  Instrumental  to 
future  satisfaction. 

The  second  proposition  of  this  theory  Is  that  the  leader's  behavior  will  be 
motivational,  l.e.,  Increase  effort,  to  the  extent  that  (1)  such  behavior  makes 
satisfaction  of  subordinate's  needs  contingent  on  effective  performance  and  (2) 
such  behavior  complements  the  environment  of  subordinates  by  providing  the  coach- 
ing, guidance,  support  and  rewards  necessary  for  effective  performance. 

House  5 

These  two  propositions  suggest  that  the  leader's  strategic  functions  are  to 
enhance  subordinates'  motivation  to  perform,  satisfaction  with  the  job  and  acrep- 
tance  of  the  leader.  From  previous  research  on  expectancy  theory  of  motivation, 

It  can  be  Inferred  that  the  strategic  functions  of  the  leader  consist  of:  (1) 

recognizing  and/or  arousing  subordinates'  needs  for  outcomes  over  which  the  leader 
has  some  control,  (2)  Increasing  personal  pay-offs  to  subordinates  for  work-goal 
attainment,  (3)  making  the  path  to  those  payoffs  easier  to  travel  by  coaching  and 
direction,  (4)  helping  subordinates  clarify  expectancies,  (5)  reducing  frustrating 
barriers  and  (6)  Increasing  the  opportunities  for  personal  satisfaction  contingent 
on  effective  performance. 

Stated  less  formally,  the  motivational  functions  of  the  leader  consist  of 
Increasing  the  nurber  and  kinds  of  personal  payoffs  to  subordinates  for  work-goal 
attainment  and  making  paths  to  these  payoffs  easier  to  travel  by  clarifying  the 
paths,  reducing  road  blocks  and  pitfalls  and  Increasing  the  opportunities  for 
personal  satisfaction  en  route. 

Contingency  Factors 

Two  classes  of  situational  variables  are  asserted  to  be  contingency  factors. 

A contingency  factor  is  a variable  which  moderates  the  relationship  between  two 
other  variables  such  as  leader  behavior  and  subordinate  satisfaction.  For  example, 
we  might  suggest  that  the  degree  of  structure  In  the  task  moderates  the  relation- 
ship between  leaders'  directive  behavior  and  subordinates'  job  satisfaction. 

Figure  l shows  how  such  a relationship  might  look.  Thus,  subordinates  are  satis- 
fied with  directive  behavior  In  an  unstructured  task  and  are  satisfied  with  non- 
directive behavior  In  a structured  task.  Therefore,  we  say  that  the  relationship 
between  leader  directiveness  and  subordinate  satisfaction  Is  contingent  upon  the 
structure  of  the  task. 

Figure  1 

Hypothetical  relationship  between  directive  leadership 
and  subordinate  satisfaction  with  task 
structure  as  a contingency  factor. 

Leader  Directiveness 



The  two  contingency  variables  are  (a)  personal  characteristics  of  the  sub~ 
ordinates  and  (b)  the  environmental  pressures  and  demands  with  which  subordinates 
must  cope  In  order  to  accomplish  the  work  goals  and  to  satisfy  their  needs. 

While  other  situational  factors  also  may  operate  to  determine  the  effects  of 
leader  behavior,  they  are  not  presently  known. 

With  respect  to  the  first  class  cf  contingency  factors,  the  characteristics 
of  subordinates,  oath-goal  tteory  asserts  that  leader  behavior  will  be  acceptable 
to  subordinates  to  the  extent  that  the  subordinates  see  such  behavior  as  either 
an  immediate  source  of  satisfaction  or  as  Instrumental  to  future  satisfaction. 
Subordinates'  characteristics  are  hypothesized  to  partially  determine  this  per- 

o g 

ceptlon.  For  example,  Runyon  and  Mitchell  show  that  the  subordinate's  score 
on  a measure  called  Locus  of  Control  moderates  the  relationship  between  partici- 
pative leadership  style  and  subordinate  satisfaction.  The  Locus -of -Control  mea- 
sure reflects  the  degree  to  which  an  Individual  sees  the  environment  as  systema- 
tically responding  to  his  or  her  behavior.  People  who  believe  that  what  happens 
to  them  occurs  because  of  their  behavior  are  called  internals;  people  who  believe 
that  what  happens  to  them  occurs  because  of  luck  or  chance  are  called  externals. 
Mitchell's  findings  suggest  that  Internals  are  more  satisfied  with  a participa- 
tive leadership  style  and  extends  are  more  satisfied  with  a directive  style. 

A second  characteristic  of  subordinates  on  which  the  effects  of  leader  be- 
havior are  contingent  is  subordinates'  perception  of  their  own  ability  with  res- 
pect to  their  assigned  tasks.  The  higher  the  degree  of  perceived  ability  rela- 
tive to  task  demands,  the  less  the  subordinate  will  view  leader  directiveness 
and  coaching  behavior  as  acceptable.  Where  the  subordinate's  perceived  ability 
Is  high,  such  behavior  Is  likely  to  have  little  positive  effect  on  the  motivation 
of  the  subordinate  and  to  be  perceived  as  excessively  close  control.  Thus,  the 
acceptability  of  the  leader's  behavior  Is  determined  In  part  by  the  characteris- 
tics of  the  subordinates. 



The  second  aspect  of  the  situation,  the  environment  of  the  subordinate, 
consists  of  those  factors  that  are  not  within  the  control  of  the  subordinate  but 
which  are  Important  to  need  satisfaction  or  to  ability  to  perform  effectively. 

The  theory  asserts  that  effects  of  the  leader's  behavior  on  the  psychological 
states  of  subordinates  are  contingent  on  other  parts  of  the  subordinates'  en- 
vironment that  are  relevant  to  subordinate  motivation.  Three  broad  classifica- 
tions of  contingency  factors  In  the  environment  are: 

* The  subordinates'  tasks 

* The  formal  authority  system  of  the  organization 

* The  primary  work  group. 

Assessment  of  the  environmental  conditions  makes  It  possible  to  predict  the  kind 
and  amount  of  Influence  that  specific  leader  behaviors  will  have  on  the  motiva- 
tion of  subordinates.  Any  of  the  three  environmental  factors  could  act  upon  the 
subordinate  In  any  of  three  ways:  first,  to  serve  as  stimuli  that  motivate  and 
direct  the  subordinate  to  perform  necessary  task  operations;  second,  to  constrain 
variability  in  behavior.  Constraints  may  help  the  subordinate  by  clarifying  ex- 
pectancies that  effort  leads  to  rewards  or  by  preventing  the  subordinate  from 
experiencing  conflict  and  confusion.  Constraints  also  may  be  counterproductive  to 
the  extent  that  they  restrict  initiative  or  prevent  increases  in  effort  from  be- 
ing associated  positively  with  rewards.  Third,  environmental  factors  may  serve 
as  rewards  for  achieving  desired  performance,  e.g.,  It  Is  possible  for  the  sub- 
ordinate to  receive  the  necessary  cues  to  do  the  job  and  the  needed  rewards  for 
satisfaction  from  sources  other  than  the  leader,  e.g.,  coworkers  in  the  primary 
work  group.  Thus,  the  effect  of  the  leader  on  subordinates'  motivation  will  be 
a function  of  how  deficient  the  environment  Is  with  respect  to  motivational  stim- 
uli, constraints  or  rewards. 

With  respect  to  the  environment,  path-goal  theory  asserts  that  when  goals 
and  paths  to  desired  goals  are  apparent  because  of  the  routine  nature  of  the 



task,  clear  group  norms  or  objective  controls  of  the  formal  authority  systems, 
attempts  by  the  leader  to  clarify  paths  and  goals  will  be  both  redundant  and  seen 
by  subordinates  as  Imposing  unnecessary,  close  control,  Although  such  control 
may  Increase  performance  by  preventing  soldiering  or  malingering,  it  also  will 
result  In  decreased  satisfaction  (see  Figure  I).  Also  with  respect  to  the  work 
environment,  the  theory  asserts  that  the  more  dissatisfying  the  task,  the  nore 
the  subordinates  will  resent  leader  behavior  directed  at  increasing  productivity 
or  enforcing  compliance  to  organizational  rules  and  procedures. 

Finally,  with  respect  to  environmental  variables  the  theory  states  that  lea- 
der behavior  will  be  motivational  to  the  extent  that  it  helps  subordinates  cope 
with  environmental  uncertainties,  threats  from  others  or  sources  of  frustration, 
Such  leader  behavior  Is  predicted  to  increase  subordinates'  satisfaction  with 
the  job  context  and  to  be  motivational  to  the  extent  that  it  increases  the  suo- 
ordinates'  expectations  that  their  effort  will  lead  to  valued  rewards. 

These  propositions  and  specification  of  situational  contingencies  provide  a 
heuristic  framework  on  which  to  base  future  research.  Hopefully,  this  will  lead 
to  a more  fully  developed,  explicitly  formal  theory  of  leadership. 

Figure  2 presents  a summary  of  the  theory.  It  is  hoped  that  these  propo- 
sitions, while  admittedly  tentative,  will  provide  managers  with  some  insights 
concerning  the  effects  of  their  own  leader  behavior  and  that  of  others. 


The  theory  has  been  tested  in  a limited  number  of  studies  which  have  gener- 
ated considerable  empirical  support  for  our  Ideas  and  also  suggest  areas  in 
which  the  theroy  requires  revision.  A brief  review  of  these  studies  follows. 

Leader  Directiveness 

Leader  directiveness  has  a positive  correlation  with  satisfaction  and  expec- 
tancies of  subordinates  who  are  engaged  in  ambiguous  tasks  and  has  a negative 

Summary  of  Path-Goal  Relationships 


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House  9 

correlation  with  satisfaction  and  expectancies  of  subordinates  engaged  in  clear 
tasks.  These  findings  were  predicted  by  the  theory  and  have  been  replicate”*  in 
seven  organizations.  They  suggest  that  when  task  demands  are  ambiguous  or  when 
the  organization  procedures,  rules  and  policies  are  not  clear,  a leader  behaving 
in  a directive  manner  complements  the  tasks  and  the  organization  by  providing 
the  necessary  guidance  and  psychological  structure  for  subordinates.^  However, 
when  task  demands  are  clear  to  subordinates,  leader  directiveness  Is  seen  more 
as  a hindrance. 

However,  other  studies  have  failed  to  confirm  these  findings.^  A study 

by  Dessler  suggests  a resolution  to  these  conflicting  findings— he  found  that 
for  subordinates  at  the  lower  organizational  levels  of  a manufacturing  firm  who 
were  doing  routine,  repetitive,  unambiguous  tasks,  directive  leadership  was  pre- 
ferred by  closed-minded,  dogmatic,  authoritarian  subordinates  and  nondirective 
leadership  was  preferred  by  non-authoritarian,  open-minded  subordinates.  How- 
ever, for  subordinates  at  higher  organizational  levels  doing  nonroutine,  ambigu- 
ous tasks,  directive  leadership  was  preferred  for  both  authoritarian  and  nonau- 
thoritarian subordinates.  Thus,  Dessler  found  that  two  contingency  factors  ap- 
pear to  operate  simultaneously:  subordinate  task  ambiguity  and  degree  of  subor- 

dinate authoritarianism.  When  measured  in  combination,  the  findings  are  as  pre- 
dicted by  the  theory;  however,  when  the  subordinate's  personality  is  not  taken 
into  account,  task  ambiguity  does  not  always  operate  as  a contingency  variable 
as  predicted  by  the  theroy.  House,  Burill  and  Dessler  recently  found  a similar 

interaction  berween  subordinate  authoritarianism  and  task  ambiguity  in  a second 

1 3 

manufacturing  firm,  thus  adding  confidence  in  Dessler's  original  findings. 

Supportive  Leadership 

The  theory  hypothesizes  that  supportive  leadership  will  have  its  most  posi- 
tive effect  on  subordinate  satisfaction  for  subordinates  who  work  on  stressful, 
frustrating  or  dissatisfying  tasks.  This  hypothesis  has  been  tested  in  ten 

10  House 


samples  of  employees,  and  In  only  one  of  these  studies  was  the  hypothesis  dls- 


confirmed.  Despite  some  Inconsistency  In  research  on  supportive  leadership, 
the  evidence  Is  sufficiently  positive  to  suggest  that  managers  should  be  alert 
to  the  critical  need  for  supportive  leadership  under  conditions  where  tasks  are 
dissatisfying,  frustrating  or  stressful  to  subordinates. 

Achievement-Oriented  Leadership 

The  theory  hypothesizes  that  achievement-oriented  leadership  will  cause  sub- 
ordinates to  strive  for  higher  standards  of  performance  and  to  have  more  confi- 
dence In  the  ability  to  meet  challenging  goals.  A recent  study  by  House,  Valency 
and  Van  der  Krabben  provides  a partial  test  of  this  hypothesis  among  white  collar 
employees  In  service  organizations.^  For  subordinates  performing  ambiguous, 
nonrepetltlve  tasks,  they  found  a positive  relationship  between  the  amount  of 
achievement  orientation  of  the  leader  and  subordinates'  expectancy  that  their 
effort  would  result  In  effective  performance.  Stated  less  technically,  for  sub- 
ordinates performing  ambiguous,  nonrepetltlve  tasks,  the  higher  the  achievement 
orientation  of  the  leader,  the  more  the  subordinates  were  confident  that  their 
efforts  would  pay  off  In  effective  performance.  For  subordinates  performing  mod- 
erately unambiguous,  repetitive  tasks,  there  was  no  significant  relationship 
between  achievement-oriented  leadership  and  subordinate  expectancies  that  their 
effort  would  lead  to  effective  performance.  This  finding  held  in  four  separate 

Two  paluslble  Interpretations  may  be  used  to  explain  these  data.  First, 
people  who  select  ambiguous,  nonrepetltlve  tasks  may  be  different  In  personality 
from  those  who  select  a repetitive  job  and  may,  therefore,  be  more  responsive  to 
an  achievement-oriented  leader.  A second  explanation  Is  that  achievement  orien- 
tation only  affects  expectancies  In  ambiguous  situations  because  there  Is  more 
flexibility  and  autonomy  In  such  tasks.  Therefore,  subordinates  In  such  tasks 



are  more  likely  to  be  able  to  change  In  response  to  such  leadership  style. 

Neither  of  the  above  Interpretations  have  been  tested  to  date;  however,  ad- 
ditional research  Is  currently  under  way  to  Investigate  these  relationships. 

Participative  Leadership 

In  theorizing  about  the  effects  of  participative  leadership  It  Is  necessary 
to  ask  about  the  specific  characteristics  of  both  the  subordinates  and  their  sit- 
uation that  would  cause  participative  leadership  to  be  viewed  as  satisfying  and 
Instrumental  to  effective  performance. 

Mitchell  recently  described  at  least  four  ways  in  which  a participative 
leadership  style  would  Impact  on  subordinate  attitudes  and  behavior  as  predicted 
by  expectancy  theory.^7  First,  a participative  climate  should  increase  the  clar- 
ity of  organizational  contingencies.  Through  participation  In  decision  making, 
subordinates  should  learn  what  leads  to  what.  From  a path-goal  viewpoint  par- 
ticipation would  lead  to  greater  clarity  of  the  paths  to  various  goals.  A second 
impact  of  participation  would  be  that  subordinates,  hopefully,  should  select 
goals  they  highly  value.  If  one  participates  In  decisions  about  various  goals, 
it  makes  sense  that  this  Individual  would  select  goals  he  or  she  wants.  Thus, 
participation  would  Increase  the  correspondence  between  organization  and  subor- 
dinate goals.  Third,  we  can  see  how  participation  would  increase  the  control 
the  individual  has  over  what  happens  on  the  job.  If  our  motivation  Is  higher 
(based  on  the  preceding  two  points),  then  having  greater  autonomy  and  ability 
to  carry  out  our  intentions  should  lead  to  increarad  effort  and  performance. 
Finally,  under  a participative  system,  pressure  towards  high  performance  should 
come  from  sources  other  than  the  leader  or  the  organization.  More  specifically, 
when  people  participate  in  the  decision  process  they  become  more  ego-involved; 
the  decisions  made  are  In  some  part  their  own.  Also,  their  peers  know  what  Is 
expected  and  the  social  pressure  has  a greater  impact.  This,  motivation  to  per- 
form will  stem  from  Internal  and  social  factors  as  well  as  formal  external  ones. 



A number  of  Investigations  prior  to  the  above  formulation  supported  the 


Idea  that  participation  appears  to  be  helpful,  and  Mitchell  presents  a number 


of  recent  studies  that  support  the  above  four  points,  However,  It  Is  also 
true  that  we  would  expect  the  relationship  between  a participative  style  and  sub- 
ordinate behavior  to  be  moderated  by  both  the  personality  characteristic:,  of  the 
subordinate  and  the  situational  demands.  Studies  by  Tanne^baum  and  Alport  and 
Vroom  have  shown  that  subordinates  who  prefer  autonomy  and  self-control  respond 

more  positively  to  participative  leadership  In  terms  of  both  satisfaction  and 


performance  than  subordinates  who  do  not  have  such  preferences.  Also,  the 

21  22 

studies  mentioned  by  Runyon  and  Mitchell  shewed  that  subordinates  who  were 
external  In  orientation  were  less  satisfied  with  a participative  style  of  lead- 
ership than  were  Internal  subordinates. 

House  also  has  reviewed  these  studies  In  an  attempt  to  explain  the  ways  in 

which  the  situation  or  environment  moderates  the  relationship  between  partlcipa- 


tlon  and  subordinate  attitudes  and  behavior.  His  analysis  suggests  that  where 
participative  leadership  Is  positively  related  to  satisfaction,  regardless  of 
the  predispositions  of  subordinates,  the  tasks  of  the  subjects  appear  to  be  am- 
biguous and  ego-involving.  In  the  studies  in  which  the  subjects'  personalities 
cr  predispositions  moderate  the  effect  of  participative  leadership,  the  tasks 
of  the  subjects  are  Inferred  to  be  highly  routine  and/or  nonego-lnvolvlng. 

House  reasoned  from  this  analysis  that  the  task  may  have  an  overriding  ef- 
fect on  the  relationship  between  leader  participation  and  subordinate  responses, 
and  that  Individual  predispositions  or  personality  characteristics  of  subordin- 
ates will  have  a need  to  reduce  tht  ambiguity.  Further,  It  was  assumed  that 
when  task  demands  are  ambiguous,  participative  problem  solving  between  the  leader 
and  the  subordinate  will  result  In  more  effective  decisions  than  when  the  task 
demands  are  unambiguous.  Finally,  It  was  assumed  that  when  the  subordinates  are 
ego-involved  In  their  tasks  they  are  more  likely  to  want  to  have  a say  In  the 

House  13 

decisions  that  affect  them,  Given  these  assumptions,  the  following  hypotheses 
were  formulated  to  account  for  the  conflicting  findings  reviewed  above: 

* When  subjects  are  highly  ego-involved  In  a decision  or  a task  and  the  de- 
cision or  task  demands  are  ambiguous,  participative  leadership  will  have  a pos- 
itive effect  of  the  satisfaction  and  motivation  of  the  subordinate,  regardless 

of  the  subordinate's  predisposition  toward  self-control,  authoritarianism  or  need 
for  Independence. 

* When  subordinates  are  not  ego-involved  In  their  tasks  and  when  task  de- 
mands are  clear,  subordinates  who  are  not  authoritarian  and  who  have  high  needs 
for  Independence  and  self-control  will  respond  favorably  to  leader  participation 
and  their  opposite  personality  types  will  respond  less  favorably. 

These  hypotheses  were  derived  on  the  basis  of  path-goal  theorizing;  i.e,, 
the  rationale  guiding  the  analysis  of  prior  studies  was  that  both  task  character- 
istics and  characteristics  of  subordinates  Interact  to  determine  the  effect  of 
a specific  kind  of  leader  behavior  on  the  satisfaction,  expectancies  and  per- 
formance of  subordinates.  To  date,  one  major  investigation  has  supported  some 


of  these  predictions  in  which  personality  variables,  amount  of  participative 
leadership,  task  ambiguity  and  job  satisfaction  were  assessed  for  324  employees 
of  an  industrial  manufacturing  organization.  As  expected,  in  nonrepetltlve,  ego- 
involving tasks,  employees  (regardless  of  their  personality)  were  more  satisfied 
under  a participative  style  than  a nonparticipative  style.  However,  In  repet** 
etive  tasks  which  were  less  ego-involving  the  amount  of  authoritarianism  of  sub- 
ordinates moderated  the  relationship  between  leadership  style  and  satisfaction. 
Specifically,  low  authoritarian  subordinates  were  more  satisfied  under  a parti- 
cipative style.  These  findings  are  exactly  as  the  theory  would  predict,  thus. 

It  has  promise  in  reconciling  a set  of  confusing  and  contradictory  findings  with 
respect  to  participative  leadership. 



Suninary  and  Conclusions 

We  have  attempted  to  describe  what  we  believe  Is  a useful  theoretical 
framework  for  understanding  the  effect  of  leadership  behavior  on  subordinate 
satisfaction  and  motivation.  Most  theorists  today  have  moved  away  from  the 
simplistic  notions  that  all  effective  leaders  have  a certain  set  of  personality 
traits  or  that  the  situation  completely  determines  performance.  Some  research- 
ers have  presented  rather  complex  attempts  at  matching  certain  types  of  leaders 


with  certain  types  of  situations  . But  we  believe  that  a path’-goal  approach 
goes  one  step  further.  It  not  only  suggests  what  type  of  style  may  be  most 
effective  In  a given  situation— It  also  attempts  to  explain  wh£  it  Is  most 

We  are  optimistic  about  the  future  outlook  of  leadership  research.  With 
the  guidance  of  path-goal  theorizing,  future  research  Is  expected  to  unravel 
many  confusing  puzzles  about  the  reasons  for  and  effects  of  leader  behavior  that 
have,  heretofore,  not  been  solved.  However,  we  add  a word  of  caution:  the 

theory,  and  the  research  on  It,  are  relatively  new  to  the  literature  of  organ- 
izational behavior.  Consequently,  path-goal  theory  is  offered  more  as  a tool 
for  directing  research  and  stimulating  Insight  than  as  a proven  guide  for  man- 
agerial action. 


* This  article  Is  also  to  be  reprinted  In  Readings  In  Organizational  and 
Industrial  Psychology  by  G.  A.  Yukl  and  K.  N.  Wexley,  2nd  edition  (1975),  The 
research  by  House  and  his  associates  was  partially  supported  by  a grant  from  the 
Shell  Oil  Company  of  Canada.  The  research  by  Mitchell  and  his  associates  was 
partially  supported  by  the  Office  of  Naval  Research  Contract  NR  170-761,  N00014- 
67-A-01 03-0032  (Terence  R.  Mitchell,  Principal  Investigator) 

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1 2 

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1 5 

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